Lesson 59

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Lesson #59

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Believing casually
spoken loshon horah

  1. If someone tells me loshon horah casually, without
    intention to harm, and without any ulterior motives but rather just as a story,
    may I believe him?
  1. Although we do find instances where the Torah gives
    credibility under such circumstances, regarding the prohibition of
    believing loshon horah it seems that you are still not allowed to believe
    him.  You may however suspect.


Believing loshon
horah when there is circumstantial evidence present

  1. A friend told me loshon horah.  I have circumstantial
    evidence that what he said is true.  May I believe him?
  1. It depends.  I will first list the situations where even
    having evidence does not skirt the prohibition of listening to, or
    believing loshon horah.
    1. If you can judge him favorably:  Even if you have
      evidence that what the teller said is true; if you can judge the person
      whom it was told about, favorably, and you don’t, you are in violation of
      believing loshon horah.
    2. If it is not relevant to you:  If the information
      is not relevant to you, you may not listen to it.
    3. Partial or second hand evidence:  If you only have
      partial evidence, or if you heard the evidence from another party and you
      don’t have first hand knowledge, you may not believe the words of loshon

If you have clear first hand
evidence and the information is relevant to you, i.e. so that you may protect
yourself, or distance yourself from that person, and there is no way or
obligation to judge him favorably, you may believe the loshon horah.


This section is
formatted as a conversation between Oded and Menaseh.   Oded is encouraging his
friend Menaseh to be more careful in guarding his tongue from evil speech.  The
thoughts in this section are primarily based on the sefer, Shmiras Haloshon.

Oded:  Our sages teach us that Hashem forbore the
sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed, but not the sin of abstention from
Torah learning.

Menaseh:  How do you know that?

Oded:  The posuk in Yirmiyahu asks the question: “As
a result of what was the land lost?… And Hashem said, for they forsook my Torah
that I gave them”.  We know from the Navi that the Jews of that time where also
guilty of the 3 cardinal sins, yet the reason Hashem gives for us losing the
land is “for they forsook my Torah”.

Menaseh:  There are many people who are not careful
about this sin.

Oded:  You’re right.  And as a result, they don’t
guide their children in the direction of Torah, causing a general weakness in
the study of Torah, the foundation of the world.

Menaseh:  As I said, I think it would be very
beneficial if we discuss the great reward for those who study Torah and the
severe punishment for those who are negligent in it.  This will help strengthen
my motivation to learn Torah diligently.

Oded:  Tomorrow I will start by describing the great
benefit and reward for those who engage in Torah study.

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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 7 Par. 9

2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 7 Par. 10, 11 Be’er
Mayim Chaim 25


Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatorah Chap 1

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